Less Is More Essay

1784 Words Oct 7th, 2012 8 Pages
“Less is More”
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is best known for his popular aphorism “less is more,” which describes the simplicity of his modernist architectural style. As described by Robert Hughes in Visions of Space, Mies van der Rohe transformed America’s major cities from heavy, clad masonry to high-rising steel and glass skyscrapers. Mies van der Rohe’s style was praised and adopted by many other architectural professionals. However, not all architects were fond of Mies van der Rohe’s “less is more” style. In 1966 Robert Venturi published Complexity and Contradiction, a novel that denounces the simplicity of modern architecture. Venturi praises hybrid, compromising, distorted, and ambiguous architecture over the popular pure, clean,
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In addition, Mies van der Rohe designed an open ground floor inside the building. No other skyscraper near the Seagram Building contains the openness of the lot or the ground floor comparable to that of the Seagram Building (Hughes). The International Style, authored by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, states that, “Skyscrapers have their proper place in the modern city, but they must be so widely spaced that they relieve congestion rather than aggravate it” (42). Mies van der Rohe followed the International-Style by leaving public spaces open in and around the Seagram Building to alleviate congestion.
Whereas the Seagram Building’s design was “generous” in openness, Robert Venturi’s Guild House is much different. The Guild House was constructed in 1961 as an elderly home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Moneo 67). The building, as Moneo describes, “does not waste a single square foot on public space, thereby sticking to the governing geometry of the strictest commercial architecture” (67). Not only does the floor plan lack public space, but the building is also positioned very close to the sidewalk and the road. Robert Venturi maximized the space for private use, which is very unappealing. The openness of space in Mies van der Rohe’s “less is more” design not only benefits the inhabitants of the Seagram Building, but also benefits any person walking by the building. Phyllis

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